My association with a Mills & Boon novel began when I was 8 or 9. My sister, a voracious bookworm, always had her abnormally large nose stuck between the pages of some or the other book. The covers of these books were fascinating; a shirtless, muscular man with his strong arms around the delicate frame of a semi-naked woman. In India, we have more watered down versions of these books and their covers; a fair (which is important), thin, and well-dressed maiden touching a fair (again, important), well-built gentleman. This is why I stay away from these books.
Our female protagonist is Sia Sharma, a successful editor at a huge publishing house. I know it’s huge because size really matters. Mr. Knight in Tight Clothes is Ryan Mathur, a self-made success story waiting to be replicated by gullible readers. Ryan, being an emotional wreck with a really dark secret dumps Sia one day, without giving her a chance to ask follow-up questions. This would, obviously, taper the number of pages so we are left with feeling “What the front door?”
Six years on, Sia is divorced from an abusive douchebag and is blissfully enjoying her singlehood while still pining for Ryan. Conveniently, he’s hired by Sia’s agency to create a marketing campaign for Nisha Malik, an author who is, like every other female character in the novel, attracted to Ryan. Seeing her true love (obviously) brings out Sia’s suppressed feelings. Now, it’s up to her to decide whether she’ll listen to her heart and let him back into her life or her head and keep it at “just friends”.
The protagonists are young and highly successful, the former being the demographic of its intended group of readers. To show that Sia is more than a sculpted enchantress; the author has her change a tyre and refuse help offered by Ryan’s friend, Adarsh. Thus, we are assured she is a “beauty with brains”. Besides a hot bod, Ryan is blessed with only 2 emotions, anger and confusion.
Supporting characters only appear when the scene calls for it. They have no role other than to be at the protagonists’ beck and call. To be fair, they are not boring. Ryan’s parents are dramatic, Sia’s are more easy-going, Minty is sympathetic, Nisha is brazen, and Adarsh is happy-go-lucky.
Misunderstandings that crop up are not tactfully handled. Rather than being a conversation, it becomes a scene with one person talking and the other person either leaving or the scene ending. And due to this, it becomes more of a “will they, won’t they” scenario. Their emotions do not justify their actions. For example, why didn’t Ryan tell Sia the real reason he’s breaking up with her? They’ve been friends since school. Doesn’t she deserve a little more information than some vague non-reply and an escape for 6 years? They break up, and chapter 2, it’s 6 years later. Ekta Kapoor would have approved.
The writing is simple and easy to understand though it is often burdened by its innumerable clichés which put you at the centre of a Bollywood movie script.
Let me list the clichés that this novel has.
- Leads who would have definitely won Miss World and Mr. Universe based on their descriptions.
- A female friend of the female lead who understands every emotion of the leads.
- Goofy man Friday of the male lead. Always arguing with female lead’s best friend.
- The protagonist has a heart of gold as she regularly visits an old age home.
- Sympathetic parent.
- An evil or abusive ex.
- Almost kisses.
- Saying “This is a mistake” or “That was a mistake” right after a kiss.
- A family conflict that takes up way more dramatic ingredients than is required.
- Cunning female anti-lead who has the hots for Mr. Drop Dead Gorgeous.
- Catching a lead in a compromising position with the cunning vamp.
- Sex that’s so passionate and orgasmic in words that will put many erotic fiction writers to shame.
Ironically, there’s a line in the book that says, “Clichés are clichés for a reason. They work.” In India, they work all the time. Many authors seem to benefit from them.
Indian readers who love a good romantic drama will thoroughly enjoy this book. It has all the makings of a nice love story with a pinch of conflict and a whole lot of emotions.
Overall Experience: Satisfactory.